SEOUL--Service members and families from the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan community had to decide if it was too hot in the kitchen, Aug. 13, when a special guest rattled pots and pans on the Korean peninsula.
Chef Robert Irvine, stopped at USAG Yongsan, among other areas of Korea, to meet and sign autographs of those fans who are currently living overseas. His tour of Korea, hosted by the USO, allowed home cooks an opportunity to meet the famous chef and take part in a cooking challenge show.
"I'm here to show the men and women that wear the flag of our nation, that we care about them," said Irvine. "We do a live show and a meet and greet here at the USO basically just to say thank you for maintaining freedom and it is just our way of letting them know that we care."
As an entrepreneur, restaurateur, and celebrity chef, Irvine, who has three books to his name and has hosted more than 12 and talk shows, including Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, and Restaurant: Impossible. Irvine also has two restaurants. He started his career in the kitchen at age 11 and then joined the Royal Navy in 1981 at the age of 15. That was the age that he knew cooking was going to be how he made his mark on the world.
"I wanted to be a chef because I like to see peoples faces when they eat food and they smile," said Irvine. "I love to give people happiness. If you cook and make a nice meal and people enjoy it changes their demeanor and they become happy, and I like to see happy people."
Now, with his success on multiple platforms, Chef Irvine has turned his attention to bringing laughter and fun to Service members and their families.
"The show that we do is very unusual and just craziness," said Irvine. "I have no idea what we are going to do, the audience picks what is we are going to do. It is just two hours of having fun and escaping a little bit from their day stresses if the and know there are a group of people, the USO and others who care about them."
For some of the fans who came out to the meet and greet and show, it was an opportunity many don't get, to shake hands with a celebrity and some even got to cook with the Chef Irvine.
"It was an awesome show. Absolutely amazing," said Sgt. Dwayne Jackson, 121st Combat Support Hospital. "At first I was glad just to get to shake his hand. But getting to go up on stage and cook with him was even more amazing."
As a special note of encouragement, Chef Irvine wanted to send the Army and military cooks of Yongsan and peninsula wide, a special message, from someone who has been where they are now.
"I can tell you, they say an army marches on its stomach and unfortunately cooks are really under appreciated," said Irvine. "It is a job that is thankless and no matter how many options or how good the food is soldiers are still going to complain. The fact of the matter is cooks are the morale keepers of the service. I would say to them to keep doing what you're doing and learn as much as you can while you're in the service. Keep morale up and keep positive. You're doing a great job and you will always do a great job."
The day in Yongsan came to an end with a special cooking demonstration held at the Main Post Club that allowed some of his fans an opportunity take part in various cooking challenges.
"The show was phenomenal. Seeing him live is completely different than what he is on TV," said Jose Velazquez, of Yongsan. "I love the fact that he embraces the military and really supports what we do. He was very personable at the meet and greet and I think people really got to see him on a personal level instead of that actor, TV level, and it really made people want to come see the show."